MICA Hosts Xu Bing Artist Talk

By Editorial Team on September 28, 2017
Image courtesy of the artist.
Artist Talk: Tuesday, October 3 at 4pm

On October 3, artist Xu Bing will speak about how his art practice, which incorporates a variety of media in large-scale installations, advocates for a just and sustainable world.

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and its Mount Royal School of Art M.F.A. program present internationally recognized artist Xu Bing, who will discuss his global art practice. Xu is known for large-scale installations that incorporate a variety of materials, such as tobacco, silkworms and corn husks, to address cultural and social issues. A conversation with MICA President Samuel Hoi follows the lecture.

“MICA is proud to welcome Xu Bing, an artist who is widely admired for his fertile and powerful engagement in contemporary and cultural issues through extraordinarily inventive art making. His thinking and practice is global, in the best sense of the word. Xu Bing is both an icon and a role model for our students,” said Hoi.

Xu is a master artist whose practice is deeply engaged in envisioning a just and sustainable world. Through his monumental installations, Xu reveals how we work, how we see ourselves and how we treat each other. His concerns include cultural and national identity, social change and surveillance.

“Since his early investigation of language, crossing from Chinese to English and subverting them both in the process, Xu Bing has been challenging boundaries and absolute truths. His work has the ability to flow between traditional craft techniques and new communication systems (like emoji), between the sacred and the profane, the personal and the universal, the temporary and the timeless,” said Luca Buvoli, director of MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art.

Encompassing his entire career, from the publication Book From the Sky, composed of meaningless glyphs designed to resemble Chinese characters, to his recent film Dragonfly Eyes, which constructs a fictional romance narrative through closed-circuit surveillance footage, Xu will discuss how his work deconstructs meaning, subverts cultural assumptions, and challenges viewers to think beyond what is presented to them.

“His means to achieve this conciliation of apparent opposites are subtle humor and deep seriousness. In these particular hard times of clashes between ideals and ideologies, Xu’s work, as an artist and educator, offers a quiet lesson in understanding our humanity,” Buvoli continued.

Xu’s talk is part of a series of fall visiting artist lectures hosted by the Mount Royal School of Art, which invites artists to give lectures, visit studios and teach courses. The fall 2017 schedule includes A.K. Burns, Dread Scott, Andrea Bowers, Spencer Finch, John Newman, Phaan Howng ’15 (Mount Royal School of Art M.F.A.) and Christian Rattemeyer.

The Mount Royal School of Art is a multi-disciplinary M.F.A. program that allows students to work in ways most appropriate to their individual research—focusing their exploration within a specific medium or crossing into a wide array of disciplines and media as they engage in intensive studio practice. MICA’s graduate fine arts programs are annually ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and were recently included on a list of the top art schools in the country by Artsy.

Xu Bing was born in Chongqing, China, in 1955. He earned his B.A. degree from the printmaking department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (CAFA) in 1981, while earning his M.F.A. in 1987. He moved to the United States in 1990. From 2008 to 2014, Xu served as the vice president of CAFA, where he is now a professor and the director of Academic Committee. He currently lives and works in Beijing and New York.

His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC; the British Museum, London; among other major institutions. Additionally, Xu’s work has been displayed at the 45th, 51st and 56th Venice Biennales, the Biennale of Sydney and the Johannesburg Biennale, among other international exhibitions.

In 1999, Xu Bing was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his “capacity to contribute importantly to society, particularly in printmaking and calligraphy.” In 2006, the Southern Graphics Council conferred on Xu its lifetime achievement award in recognition of the fact that his “use of text, language and books has impacted the dialogue of the print and art worlds in significant ways.” In 2015, he was awarded the 2014 Department of State-Medal of Arts for his efforts to promote cultural understanding through his artworks. That April, he was appointed as an A.D. White Professor-at-large at Cornell University.

The event is free and open to the public, and will take place in MICA’s Falvey Hall, 1301 W Mt. Royal Avenue, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 4 p.m. The talk will be live-streamed via MICA’s Facebook page. Visit mountroyalschoolofart.com for more information on upcoming visiting artist talks.